The owner of a seedy dive and brothel (Gale Sondergaard) on a South Seas island meets two treasure hunters (John Carradine and Sidney Toler) looking for a sunken ship with a $3-million cargo of gold.
She persuades them to let her in on the deal.
Complications ensue because of intrigue, double-crosses and an approaching violent monsoon.
September 27, 2012 Subject:
Sorrowful waste of talent, sister
First review pretty much captured the absurdity of this mess. It is difficult, however, to imagine that Ulmer was constrained by the screenplay when Ulmer is credited with the original story. As director and creator, it seems unlikely that the screenplay would be completely out of his control. And it is a real stinker: when the tough-punching pirate hears that the gold has been found, his response is "Whoopee!". And wait till you hear the tribal chief's mumbo-jumbo!
Speaking of mumbo-jumbo, I had problems hearing the dialog. At first, I did a lot of rewinding, but soon found that the lines weren't even worth hearing.
To this waste of Carradine's and Toler's talent as character actors, I hereby bequeath 2 stars. Plus an extra star for the coded boy-boy action amongst the opposing pair of sailor-boys, which reaches its peak when Toler calls his dapper young mate "sister"!
December 20, 2011 Subject:
The previous review is quite accurate. I gave it 4 stars because there are so few movies from this era. Amazing how closely the father Carradine and son resemble each other. I recoginized him right away, even though he was not facing the camera. No, Sydney should never appear in a swimsuit, but it was interesting to see him pre Charlie Chan. For curiosity, watch.
December 1, 2011 Subject:
Gadzooks, what a mess!
Yikes! Mosquito-weight John Carradine astonishingly miscast as a brawling bruiser of a romantic hero. To make matters worse he's costumed in tight polo shirts which make him look even skinnier. Carradine was a great actor, but you can't fight physics. Another masterstroke of miscasting has a constantly smiling Gale Sondergaard as Carradine's love interest. She was one of Hollywood's great villainesses who is noticeably out place here.
…But wait! there's more! Sidney Toler shows up as a jovial villain who goes cave diving with a bevy of brothel cuties. Sidney Toler in a bathing suit is a sight best left unseen! (double yikes!) Rick Vallin is a villainous sailor who performs classical piano pieces. (½ yike) So much for the interesting cast members.
You really don't want to know about the plot, but it does have some interesting features like the aforementioned cuties calmly sitting around discussing the state of things. …Oh, did I forget to mention they're in a flimsy shack in the midst of a raging typhoon!
A ubiquitous background score plays prominently and constantly behind almost every scene, and it often is bizarrely inappropriate for the onscreen action. For example, in the midst of an almost-suspenseful diving scene, the instrumental background suddenly breaks into a male chorus loudly singing a sea shanty. The effect was so startling I almost fell off the sofa laughing. (triple yikes!)
Director Edgar Ulmer is a mystery. He was the director of "Bluebeard" (1944), the acclaimed "Ruthless" (1948) and the highly acclaimed "Detour" (1945). So what the hell happened? Was he impossibly constrained by the strange screenplay and screwy characterizations? Was Ulmer so tightly budgeted he was forced to shoot every scene with as few takes as possible? There are very few closeups, and all the speaking characters in scenes appear together in single, static shots which sometimes have poor camera angles. Go figure.
Surprisingly the production values are mostly okay, and this includes some of the FX.
The print has marginal video quality, but good audio.
This review has gone on for much too long, and it's time to bite the bullet. Though I'll probably hate myself in the morning, this whacky adventure gets three stars for being so bad it's good. No angry emails please. BTW, don't blame PRC for this one. They were only the distributor.
FOOTNOTES: The erroneous title "Monsoon" is the re-release title. The original was "Isle of Forgotten Sins."
Eight minutes are missing from this print. The original version no longer exists, which could be a blessing.
There is no way to prove it, however I suspect some of the typhoon FX were outtakes from John Ford's mega hit "Hurricane" (1937)
"Bluebeard" and "Detour" are available here at IA.